Fixing Your Product Backlog Problems

If your Scrum Team is struggling with building your Product, it may be time to take a closer look at your Product Backlog to see what needs to be refined. 

According to Scrum Guide 2020, “Product Backlog refinement is the act of breaking down and further defining Product Backlog items into smaller more precise items. This is an ongoing activity to add details, such as a description, order, and size.”

The main benefit of the Product Backlog refinement activity is that it assists in the Team getting ready for future Sprints. It ensures that there are enough items in the Product Backlog that will meet the Team’s Definition of Ready, can be completed by the Team in each Sprint, and provides business values.

Product Backlog Refinement

R – Review—Reviewing the Product Backlog is a Team activity to take a look at prioritization and ranking. Are the important items to the Customers and Stakeholders at the top of the Backlog? Do rankings need to change based on the current Sprint or the last Sprint Review?

E – Elaborate—The Product Owner walks the Team through each item to ensure accuracy and detail and resolve any concerns. The Team may identify a need for additional research to complete the refinement in the next session.

F – Fix—The Product Owner and Developers break items into smaller elements to allow completion within a single Sprint. 

I – investigate—The Developers may need to do some analysis work for an item (e.g., talk to another Team, look into code, do technical research) to ensure readiness for the next Sprint.

N – Negotiate—The Product Owner and Developers work together to clarify and adjust acceptance criteria. 

E – Estimate—Upon achieving a common understanding of the items, the Developers can estimate using whichever technique works for them.